We had shared the exciting news with you that Sri Lanka has opened to international visitors starting from the 21st of January after being closed for more than ten months. This is an exciting opportunity for all travellers who have not been able to travel for a long time. Have you already started planning trips for your travellers? Let us share a few guidelines/protocols which have been put in place by the country to ensure everyone’s safety.

Travellers into Sri Lanka must undergo at least two Covid tests and possibly more, depending on the length of their stay. Covid tests are first required within 96 hours of departure and again upon landing in Sri Lanka. Those staying longer than five days must take a third test, and anyone staying more than two weeks must take the fourth test.

Children under 12 years old are exempt from testing unless they become symptomatic or are in close contact with an infected traveller.

Travellers must also apply for a visa before departure. Before doing so, tourists must make hotel bookings, purchase a Covid-19 insurance policy ($12) and prepay for Covid-19 tests ($40 each).

Currently, visas are not being issued to people who have been in the United Kingdom two weeks before entering Sri Lanka.

The guests have to mandatorily pre-pay for the COVID tests (@ USD 40 per test) which they will undergo during their travel plus a COVID insurance (@ USD 12 per person for a policy of USD 50000 valid for 1 month) by visiting the site www.visitsrilanka.gov.lk before applying for an online VISA.

When arriving in Sri Lanka, guests will have to show proof of accommodation at one of the 55 certified ‘Safe & Secure’ hotels, which local residents can’t frequent, except for staff. You can check the list of certified hotels here. Unlike strict quarantines, travellers are not confined to their hotel rooms during the first two weeks of a trip. Guests are “permitted to use all facilities in the hotel including the beach,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Fernando told CNBC Global Traveler.

Sri Lanka Travel

Your guests will not be permitted to move outside the hotel for up to 14 days, except for trips to approved tourist sites during allocated timeslots. Here is the list of some of the most visited approved tourist sites your guests would be able to visit during the 14 days stay:

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve


A unique lowland rain forest spread across 11,187 hectares, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot and one of the least disturbed forests in Sri Lanka. Declared a National Heritage Area in 1988 and World Heritage Site, later on, the forest is bounded by rivers on three sides—Kalu Ganga in the north, Gin Ganga in the south, and Kudawa Ganga in the west. A series of unbroken ridges, aligned east to west, define this place’s topography.

The forest’s undergrowth is what one finds in a tropical lowland rainforest—dense and luxuriant. Several butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are unique to this reserve.

Since the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the last remaining relatively undisturbed remnant of tropical humid evergreen forest in Sri Lanka, and Endemism within the property is extremely high, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is also the first natural Sri Lanka site added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Times of visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri)

Yala National Park

Yala National Park

Spread over 979 square kilometers in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is the oldest and most famous national park in Sri Lanka.

Renowned for its wildlife variety, the major activities here are bird and game watching, especially elephants. The park has 32 species of mammals, and the lagoon fauna includes various species of prawns, crabs, and fish.

Yala houses many ruins, including an earlier civilization’s irrigation system, which indicates that once the area was prosperous and populated. The park’s vegetation is largely a secondary forest, possibly a few hundred years old, and is predominantly semi-arid thorn scrub interspersed with pockets of dense forest.

Times of Visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri) between 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. For groups, an advance notification has to be given to the relevant authorities.

Udawalawe National Park Safari


Renowned for its exceptional picturesque beauty and wealth of animal species, Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka is frequented by tourists throughout the year.

Situated in the dry zone, the park’s topography is defined by an annual drought that coincides with the southwest monsoon showers. The park’s principal ecosystem is the forest area with prickly shrubs and scattered grasslands. The park is populated by Elephant herds while the numbers of Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Water Buffalo, and Wild Boar are gradually increasing again.

Times of Visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri) between 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. For groups, an advance notification has to be given to the relevant authorities.

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park

This beautiful national park, situated around 30 km west of Anuradhapura, is surrounded by River Modergam Aru in the South and River Kalay Oya in the north. Wilpattu National Park is the biggest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka that spans no less than 131,693 hectares with an altitude ranging between 0 meters and 152 meters above the sea-level.

Unlike the other wildlife sanctuaries in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu National Park comes under the dry zone. It is a unique complex of over 50 wetlands called “Villu,” which is the most prominent topographical feature of this national park. ‘Villu’ are shallow natural lakes filled with rainwater surrounded by open grassy plains amidst the dense scrub jungle. The presence of the Villus with an abundance of water can best explain the weather patterns that prevail over the park.

Along with the big four Sri Lankan wildlife, Elephant, the Leopard, Sloth Bear, and Deer, one can also sight the endemic birds here.

Times of Visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri) between 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. For groups, an advance notification has to be given to the relevant authorities.

Mirrisa Whale Watching


Early morning proceed to Mirissa with packet breakfast to witness the Largest Mammal on the earth! Mirissa is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. It is a fishing port and one of the Island’s main whale and dolphin watching locations. It is said that if you would like to witness Sri Lanka’s best and most stunning sunsets and sunrises, you must visit Mirrisa.

Times of Visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri) from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. For groups, an advance notification has to be given to the relevant authorities.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage holds a unique disposition in ex-situ animal care. Its success and fame have traveled not just within Sri Lanka but throughout the world. The fame can be gauged from the extent that Pinnawala has become a synonym with the Sri Lankan Elephant.

This concept was realized on the 16th of February 1975. At that time, Pinnawala was a very remote area with lush coconut plantations. However, what it had was the availability of mahouts. Also, the immense amount of water required by the elephants is supplemented with the availability of “Ma Oya” running close by.

Times of Visit: Any day of the week between 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Sigiriya Fortress


Sigiriya, a 5th-century rock-fortress citadel, is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Filled with legends, the fortress’s origin is attributed variously to several mythological characters, the most popular being King Kubera, half-brother of Ravana, the antagonist of the Indian epic, Ramayana. Historically, it was King Kashyapa’s capital from 477 to 495 CE. Rising sharply above the rest of its surroundings, the flat plane on the top of the hill contains the vestiges of a grand city. With its geometrically designed gardens, pools, and paintings, the citadel reflects the Monarch’s tastes. The Lion Staircase leading up to the summit has a massive lion paw carved out of the rock. Frescoes of slender, bejewelled women that decorate several of the fort’s wall surfaces glow in vibrant colors. An extraordinary feature of this place is the mirror wall, which, in its time, was a highly-polished surface that would cast a mirror-like reflection of the passer-by. Today, the wall is partially covered in verses known as “Sigiri Graffiti,” which are poems dating back to the 8th century. A UNSECO site, Sigiriya, is currently being excavated and restored under UNESCO’s Cultural Triangle Project and could be the world’s future eighth Wonder.

Times of Visit: Any day of the week between 6.30 am to 5.30 pm. Fresco cave will have max. 8 guests at a time, whereas the Museum can have a max of 60 guests at a time.

Anuradhapura (except Sri Maha Bodhi)


The first historical capital of Sri Lanka, the city of Anuradhapura, was founded around the 5th century BCE. It was one of the most stable centers of political power in South Asia during that time.

A World Heritage Site, the city was the nucleus of Theravada Buddhism and is considered sacred by Buddhists worldwide.

With its gigantic Buddhist shrines, splendid palaces, pavilions, parks, and bathing ponds, the city gives us a glimpse of the stately, well-laid-out metropolis this city used to be.

The documented account refers to Anuradhapura as the first capital of Sri Lanka. The city still holds relics of architectural ruins of the ancient kingdoms and Buddhist temples that cannot be seen in most parts of the world. Anuradhapura is truly an ancient city with a deep heritage, culture, politics, and religious history. Some of the most famous monuments here are Brazen Palace’s ruins and the impressive Ruwanwelisaya built by majestic King Dutugamunu. Mahamevuna Uyana houses the Sacred Bo-tree of Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest authenticated sacred tree, planted from a sapling from the Mahabodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Another magnificent sight is Jetavanaramaya, the largest Dagaba (stupa) globally. The city is spread with ruins of ancient Dagabas and other religious significance sites.

Times of Visit: Any day of the week between 6.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Ancient city of Polonnaruwa (UNESCO)


Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka between the 11th – 13th centuries. The city contains some of the most beautiful and magnificent statues. Pulasthipura was an early historical name of Polonnaruwa, the UNESCO world heritage site with a great history. Polonnaruwa’s main sites are the conserved ruins of massive Buddhist temples, splendid royal palaces, enormous unbroken statues carved from boulders, and ancient irrigation reservoirs. Lankatilake, Tivanka, and Thuparama are the most impressive and largest shrine ruins. Tivanka is considered the best example of frescoes of the Polonnaruwa period. The other places of interest are Buddha Statues at Gal Viharaya, Vata-da-Geya, Moonstone, Pothgul Vehera, and others. The best way to enjoy the unhindered beauty of Polonnaruwa is on bikes.

Times of Visit: Any day of the week between 6.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Royal Botanical Garden, Kandy


Royal Botanical Garden of Kandy is said to be the largest garden in Sri Lanka. It is an elegant and spacious garden covering 147-acres (60-hectares) of land. There are around 4,000 different species of plants and around 10,000 or so trees in this beautiful garden. One of the main highlights of the collection that can be seen here is the Giant Bamboo of Burma, capable of growing to 40 meters in height (around 130 feet) with a 25-centimeter (around 10-inch) stem diameter.

Another major attraction here is the giant Javan fig tree, which is said to be more than 150 years old. Its tentacle-like roots spread across the huge area of around 1,800 square meters (around 19,375 square feet). There is a massive central trunk right beneath the tree’s vast canopy, which looks more or less like an ‘umbrella’.

Times of Visit: Any day of the week between 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. Guests will be received in batches- one batch at a time & guests will be encouraged to bring their own water bottles.

Temple of Tooth Relic, Kandy

Temple of Tooth Relic

Ever since the Buddha’s Tooth was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th Century A.D., hidden from sinful hands in an Orissan princess’ hair, the Relic has grown in reputation and holiness in Sri Lanka and throughout the Buddhist world. Sri Dalada Maligawa, “Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic,” houses the most sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. A historical procession called “Esala Perahera” is held annually during July to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.

Times of Visit: Only on Weekdays (Mon to Fri) from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm. Guests owned footwear should be placed in polythene covers in the proper hygienic procedures in the shoe counter reserved for foreign tourists. Guests will have to place the footwear themselves in the given basket.